Written By: Elizabeth Heubeck
Mahtab Hariri-Salehi, PharmD ’96, considers daily healing from modern-day stresses an integral part of her “vital lifestyle” as a pharmacist and entrepreneur. The concept stems from her childhood.
“I come from the old world,” she says. “I lived in Iran until I was 13. Every time anyone would get sick in my family out of the kitchen would come a special food or herbal remedy,” recalls Hariri-Salehi, who learned early to associate her family’s loving preparation of broths and Borage tea for colds or quince leaf tea for stomachaches with the healing process.
Combining that foundation with a natural affinity for biology and “finding remedies” led Hariri-Salehi to the Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) program at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy. She says the decision prepared her well for subsequent roles as an academic, independent pharmacist, and, most recently, a pharmapreneur.
In May 2019, Hariri-Salehi founded Intrigue Yellow, Inc., a female empowerment platform that starts from self to home health to society and global initiatives. One of its initiatives is The Apothecarista, a project that focuses on lifestyle medicine topics as a resource, particularly for women.
“Intrigue Yellow streamlines my passions in medicine, home, family health, and wellness in women,” says Hariri-Salehi, who recently has added private patient consultations and advocacy. Earnings support her Intrigue Yellow Foundation for female entrepreneurial initiatives in the arts and sciences.
“Everything I’m doing now I owe to the University of Maryland,” Hariri-Salehi says.
She describes the culture at the School of Pharmacy as conducive to facilitating critical and independent thinking. “Classes were like discussion places. We would explore new ideas and concepts,” observes Hariri-Salehi.
One idea that struck her was the concept of pharmaceutical care practices and direct care to patients, which she applied early in her career at the University of Maryland Medical System’s (UMMS) Ambulatory Outpatient Pharmacy. There, she focused on patient counseling and enhanced medication adherence with easy access to pharmacists. A year later, Hariri-Salehi oversaw associated satellite ambulatory care consulting sites.
Hariri-Salehi also employed this patient-centric model at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she completed a residency in ambulatory care. There, Hariri-Salehi launched her next generation outpatient pharmacotherapy clinic for neurology patients modeled after the one at UMMS. The “one-stop shopping” comprehensive model resulted in significantly fewer emergency department visits by epileptic patients.
Then, in mid-life, the obligation of raising three children and caring for her parents gave Hariri-Salehi a new perspective on holistic and preventative care. “I’ve been taking care of my parents for the past 20 years. I kept micromanaging their medications, working with their physicians, and adjusting their lifestyle. I saw how gracefully they’re aging,” says Hariri-Salehi, whose father is 102.
Around the time she launched Intrigue Yellow, the School of Pharmacy started the Center for Women in Pharmapreneurism, which aims to prepare women to pursue innovative solutions to health care challenges. “We look forward to collaborating with Mahtab as a member of the center’s task force. She’s a great asset and example of the type of female entrepreneur we want to be part of our center,” says Magaly Rodriguez de Bittner, PharmD ’83, BCPS, CDE, FAPhA, the School’s associate dean for clinical services and practice transformation.
Hariri-Salehi is excited to continue pursuing her professional passions that serve society, women, families, and overall wellbeing. “Not only am I living out my curious vision of helping to remedy the root cause of chronic diseases through lifestyle medicine practices, but I also hope to use my pharmaceutical and philanthropic experiences to heal societies,” she says.